Over a rainy weekend in July, Bristol has once again found itself at the centre of the street art scene. Upfest is by some way the biggest event of its kind in Europe. Now in its 10th year the south of city once more found itself taken over with urban art.
Centered around the area of Bedminster the main crux of the action takes place around North Street with key walls and outdoor painting locations dotted along the way. The Ashton Gate Football Stadium, South Street Park and the Climbing Centre also hosted artists and were key locations.
In total over 200 artists were scheduled to paint at the event and if any city is going to pull this off then Bristol is it. After all, it is commonly thought of as being the birthplace of graffiti and street art in the UK and has a proud history when it comes to urban art. It’s not only in Bedminster either. Wander around the likes of Stokes Croft, St Pauls or indeed the centre of town and you’ll come across
SIMPSONS THEME AT UPFEST
This year the festival also seems to have gained some form of sponsorship from the TV show ‘The Simpsons’ with a number of pieces both influenced by and incorporating characters from the show. The organisers did something similar in previous years with characters from Aardman Animations and the Mr Men all having featured prominently during previous iterations.
This year, the weather was also a factor! Torrential downpours over the weekend really curtailed the progress of a number of the artists. Those working high on top of scaffolding or nifty lifts could pretty much only watch and wait whilst people painting in the main South Street Park had to sit out large chunks of time as the field was closed due to high winds. All this coming just after some of the hottest days on record and a sweltering and dry summer.
But, the art still happened, and once again the artists of Upfest created a unique and impressive body of work. Some permanent and some only showcased for the duration of the festival. It’s tough to pick out which we thought were the best or at least which had the most impact on us, but then that’s the whole point of this post so at least we thought we’d give it go. So here we are, the top 25 artworks from the Upfest 2018.
THE INSPIRING CITY TOP 25 MURALS FROM UPFEST
1. PHILITH & N4T4 – SALVATION ARMY, EAST STREET
Midlands duo Philith and N4T4 paint as the ‘Never Ready’ crew and this year took over the giant Salvation Army wall. The imagery is inspired by thoughts of mysticism and the mother earth. It’s a striking wall with a colour palette of blues and soft reds. The duo painted last year as well on a much smaller scale and we also loved that, but this is really impactful up close.
2. L7M – MERRYWOOD ROAD
Two murals were painted by Brazilian artist L7matrix. Showing birds in flight, the wings evaporate into wisps of colour which the bird ends up surrounded by as it takes off into flight. The wisps then act as trails in the sky on the wall around it leading to an enchantment of colour.
3. ANDREW BURNS COLWILL – THE PANTILES, WESTBOURNE GROVE
Another powerful piece from Bristol local Andrew Burns Colwell. Known for his political and environmental art, this is no different. Inspired by Brexit it shows an apple with the world printed onto it being dropped into a pair of cusped hands. A bite has been taken out of the apple however and that’s the UK. It didn’t get caught and is sinking, he calls the mural ‘The Gift’.
ANDREW BURNS COLWILL EXPLAINS HIS MURAL ‘THE GIFT’
4. INSANE51- RED & WHITE CAFE, NORTH STREET
Greek artist Insane51 paints images which, when looked through 3D glasses, both appear to be different. On this the red filter will show a normal woman. With the green filter it will show a skeleton. A hugely sought after artist, his work at last years Upfest, a collaboration with Fanakapan was also a show stopper
5. ODEITH- SOUTH STREET PARK
Portuguese artist Odeith is known for his anomorphic style and had a special series of boards created for him so that people could see his work in its glory. Depicting a crocodile floating underneath the water, the name Odeith can be seen in the background. When seen from a certain angle, the whole scene comes to life.
6. ANNATOMIX – EBENEZER GATE, NORTH STREET
Painting in a tricky location in the courtyard of a church and battling the elements, Annatomix’s giant hummingbird was a constant crowd puller. Her pleasing style has evolved over the years and her murals are now some of the most sought after on the street art scene. Not that surprising when you see what she created for Upfest.
7. NOMAD CLAN – ALDI CAR PARK, NORTH STREET
Painting the principle wall of this years festival, the Nomad Clan were one of the artists selected by Simpson’s creator Matt Groening to create a feature wall for the festival. The Clan’s ‘Be More Lisa’ mural was the result, incorporating the character as per the brief but also giving a powerful message of female empowerment to young women.
8. ROSK & LOSTE – REDPOINT CLIMBING CENTRE
Sicilian based artists Rosk & Loste were new to us before coming to Bristol to paint on the giant wall of the Redpoint Climbing Centre. Their mural, a giant portrait of a woman with a flower in her hair is striking and one of the stand out pieces from this years festival.
9. VOYDER- OLD ARGOS BUILDING, EAST STREET
Local artist Voyder just constantly impresses with this flowing style. Combining his photo realism with this recognisable tag and neon stripe, he is a favourite in the city.
10. GUY DENNING- SOUK KITCHEN, RALEIGH ROAD
“Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number shake your chains to earth like dew which in sleep have fallen on you. Ye are many, they are few” – A line from ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley written in 1819. Written at the time of the Peterloo massacre, it is a call for the freedom of the working classes
11. NUNO VIEGAS & TYMON DE LAAT – COOPERS ARMS, NORTH STREET
A collaboration between Netherlands based Portuguese artist Nuno Viegas and Tymon De Laat, a Dutch national produced a striking piece on the side of the Coopers Arms. Set against a black background it shows a man, his face masked in colour with his arm outstretched seemingly throwing up a nozzle from a spray can. His expression is one of calm indifference as he stands there inviting someone to join him
12. JODY – VARIOUS ARTWORKS ON NORTH STREET
This years festival artist Jody is another Bristol favourite and a regular on the city’s scene. Throughout the festival he created a number of golden images including an apple, a skull and a bug. Jody also created the main image for this years Upfest, a dangling hand with fingers dipped in gold paint.
13. ANGUS – VARIOUS PIECES, NORTH STREET
Another Bristol local, Angus has been one of the busiest artists of this years festival. His main wall, the ‘Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge’ mosaic is a play on the famous Banksy mural and a nod to Matt Groening’s characters in Futurama. His ‘fishing for likes’ mosaic also appeared early on, as did his image of Maggie from the Simpsons letting go of a red balloon. Another nod to Banksy and again tying it in with the Simpsons theme, this one in particular has proved popular with photographers and the local kids.
14. CARO PEPE – BREWERY THEATRE, NORTH STREET
German based artist Caro Pepe was one of our featured artists last year and it was good to see that in 2018 she was given one of the main walls. Her mural was a nod to the suffragette movement and the fact that it is 100 years since some women got the vote. Incorporating the suffragette flag and her iconic one eyed woman, there’s a lot going on in this piece.
15. LOUIS MASAI – LILIT, NORTH STREET
Battling against the elements in an exposed location and painting a huge wall. Louis Masai was still going long after we’d left, choosing to paint a giant coral reef. This is an image he’s done before on walls around the world as he looks to draw attention to the plight of natural habitats such as reefs which are being damaged by humans.
16. ZOE POWER – SOUTH ROAD GARAGES, SOUTH ROAD
Another suffragette mural from Zoe Power incorporated the famous slogan ‘Deeds not Words’ as well as the words ‘Thro’ Thick & Thin’. A colourful piece against a fairly drab skyline it was one of those which was pretty difficult to photograph. The central image is of two women seemingly holding hands against a background of bright abstraction.
17. SNUB – REDPOINT CLIMBING CENTRE
Festival favourite Snub went high onto the Redpoint Climbing Centre. He painted one of his comic book inspired characters against a background of cube like shapes which he likes to use in his artwork. We’ve interviewed Snub previously and you can learn about his work and inspirations by clicking here.
18. CHINA GIRL – TOBACCO FACTORY
An ambitious piece this time from China Girl whose work on tiles have long graced Upfest and which can still be seen dotted around. This time she went big and opted for a giant giraffe which now stands on the entrance to the yard of the Tobacco Factory.
19. ROO, SKY HIGH, ALI HAMISH & MINTO
A selection of artists painted the West Street wall with each taking a different section of it. The quartet created an underwater scene with Roo’s octopus interspersed with Sky High’s lettering underneath a shoal of sardines from Ali Hamish and a sinking police car from Minto.
20. THE LONDON POLICE – ROYSTON GARDEN MEWS, NORTH STREET
Known for their giant graphic characters, the London Police were true to form as they went big on one of the main walls at the festival.
21. GAGE GRAPHICS, EAST STREET
Bristol based artist Ollie Gillard also known as Gage Graphics painted a giant whale and a parrot on side street just off East Street. The mural is full of detail including a little scuba diver and a top hat on the whale.
22. PIET RODRIGUEZ – NORTH STREET & SOUTH STREET PARK
From Antwerp in Belgium, Piet ended up producing two of his works at the festival. The first, an eye catching image of the ‘Ectasy of Saint Theresa d’Avilla’ on North Street and the second in the South Street Park. His work looks like marble on a canvas merging the styles of the old masters with the mediums of today.
23. HANNAH ADAMASZEK – THE SPOTTED COW, NORTH STREET
Painting the the courtyard of the spotted cow, Hannah’s typically delicate style does tend to lend itself to such an environment. It was the same last year when her collaboration with Saroj covered a wall in another pub, the Steam Crane. Her pastel colours and dreamy backgrounds have certainly become a staple of Upfest in recent years.
24. JEROME DAVENPORT – SOUTH STREET PARK
Jerome Davenport also known as Ketones6000 is someone who we’ve featured a lot this year. His photo realistic portraits are just getting better and better and his board in the South Street Park was a great example of this.
25. TIM MARSH – SOUTH STREET
Hidden away on one of the side streets just down from the main painting area of the park, Tim Marsh gave another nod to Bristol favourite, Banksy. Using his iconic hooded monkey image and giving it a whole new lease of life.
Upfest was visited over the weekend of 28, 29 & 30 July 2018. For more about Upfest click here and for more about the street art scene in Bristol click here. To check out murals from Upfest 2017 click here.